South-Side Rappers, The Real Deal

My original intent to uncovering the root behind the unfavoring demeanor of the ‘typical south side rapper’ has been made almost entirely in vain. I’ve learned there is some validity to the stereotypes, albeit truisms, of this particular breed of artist. I should have listened to my good friend ILLAPhant who says,  “good luck with making a 14 year old boy who raps about guns females and money look good!”

Still, in communities where violent crime, disputes, and retaliation have become the norm, it makes sense for these artists to act out the way they do–most of the time it’s all they know. Another reality to make note of is the fact that heightened criminality in the Chicago area is nothing new, nor is it’s rap influence.

“Violence in Chicago is not a new occurrence and neither is the imagery of violence portrayed in hip-hop,” says TheGrio’s Taleah Griffin.

It’s not the first time rap has been blamed for increased crime waves throughout the country, or even in Chicago. However, it is a phenomenon that has plagued underprivileged black and brown communities for quite some time, and has been the recent topic of discussion as America zooms it’s lense on the greater Chicago area.

The key component in most discussions though, is the rap communities affect on local area youth and how vulnerable they are to it’s so-called turmoil.

In an interview with a Baltimore radio station, Lupe Fiasco had this to say about the (at the time) newly discovered south side icon, Chief Keef:

“When you drive through Chicago…the hoodlums, the gangstas and the ones you see killing each other, the murder rate in Chicago is sky-rocketing, when you see who’s doing it and perpetrating it, they all look like  Chief Keef. He looks just like Chicago…he could be any kid on the street…”

“Any kid” is right. Especially when there exists 14-year-old artists like Lil Mouse, who also considers himself a hard-core, gangster rapper. Like Keef, the rising youngster, inspite of his wide range of criticisms, continues to promote the negative, violence infused misogynistic side of Chicago rap culture. While celebrating his 14th birthday over the weekend, Mouse retweeted:

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However, when asked to shed light on his perspective of the industry (in hopes to give himself what I thought would be a positive image) he refused to give a comment. It’s almost as if Mouse, like others, wants to perpetuate his unfavorable image, or like he wants to have a bad rep.

To their defense, though, Griffin believes artists like Chief Keef & Lil Mouse are just scapegoats for the larger problem at hand.

“Chief Keef is not the originator of gangsta rap nor is he the first gang member to be signed to a major record label,” she says proudly. “What is notable [though] about Keef’s rise to the top is that he emerged from Chicago at a time when the nation is zoomed in to Chicago violence,” she continues.  “He’s emerged as the bad guy, the face of Chicago violence and the voice of a thugged-out culture.”

Your thoughts?

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Logan Square: “Small Town Neighborhood Feel + Affordable Rent”

La Boulangerie (Milwaukee and Logan)

La Boulangerie (Milwaukee and Logan)

During the last couple of weeks I’ve been in touch with a couple of residents of the Logan Square neighborhood and in gathering my list of sources, I wanted to get a diverse group of voices which could speak to the ever changing landscape of the neighborhood. In order to gain a better sense of the good and the bad that comes with gentrification.

One of these voices is Caitlin Berg, a 33 year-old recent college grad who moved to Logan Square just a little over a year ago after having lived 5 years in the Lincoln Square neighborrhood.

Berg originally from Minnesota says she moved to Logan Square because of “how affordable rent is compared to other neighborhoods in the city.”

“After my lease ended in March 2012, I needed to find an apartment that allowed me to both live comfortably while at the same time leave a little extra money in my pocket to start paying off my college loans.”

“I love that Logan Square has that small town neighborhood feel right in the middle of the city, with cute little shops and bars such as ‘La Boulangerie’ which offers fresh baked French bread and Azucar Tapas a small little Tapas bar on Kedzie which is always full of locals.”

Berg says, that after her lease ended in March of 2012, she searched and searched in the Lincoln Square neighborhood and could not find anything within her price range.

She mentions, she had never imagined rent prices would be so high for a one bedroom apartment given she’d previously shared an apartment with three of her friends.

Berg says, she had heard a million different opinions as to whether or not she should move to Logan Square. However, she decided to take the plunge and experience things on her own after she set her eyes on a vintage 1 bedroom apartment on Schubert and Richmond.

“I love every minute so far that I’ve spent here. Location is great, the ‘El’ is near by. There are a ton of restaurants along Milwaukee and best of I am saving at least $300 per month on rent.”

It seems that for newly established residents of Logan Square such Berg, gentrification has actually made it much easier for them to make the decision to live in Logan Square. Offering new residents an array of new businesses that only keep growing and growing.

Now, I am looking to hear what it’s like for long time residents of the area. How have these changes and new businesses affected their way of live?

Stay tuned,as we explore the two side of gentrification within the Logan Square neighborhood.

Can We Talk?: Interviews w/ Lil Mouse, Joe-Ski & Mr. G’s Supper Club

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So I’ve been in contact with a few sources. One is Lil Mouse, the 13-year-old rapper who performed at Mr. G’s Supper Club in March before their gang related shoot out that same evening. Since the shooting, aside from his recent videos, the young star has been receiving quite a lot of backlash from Chicago parents. I spoke with one of his representatives and while he cannot talk about the shootings in particular, he may be able to shed some light on how is experiences as a young, south side rapper are different from ones up north (Wicker Park).

I’ve also reached out to another south side rapper Joe-Ski, the cousin of another good friend of mine in the industry, who seems very eager to talk about his experiences as a rapper as well. I’m sure his own experiences as a self-managed hip-hop artist from the south-side will be interesting, to say the least.

Next, there is the possibility of getting in contact with TheGrio‘s Taleah Griffin who’s done a few stories about hip-hop in Chicago. One in particular was about Chief Keef’s portrayal of the violence in Chicago.

Finally, I’m working on speaking with the owner of Mr. G’s Supper Club, Gene Linton (or someone from their staff) to speak on changes that have taken place since the shooting to tie in with the Congress theatre case. Basically, what are they doing, or not doing, to make sure things like this don’t happen again? Does this mean no more hip-hop shows?

Welp, looks like I have a lot of work to do. Let’s get to it!

Follow me @AllieLyke 

 

Reflecting On Internships

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After listening to Randi Belisomo’s advice last night in class, I continue to question how important internships are. I have found several articles that questioned the worth of unpaid internships. However, after listening to Randi talk about her career, I am reconsidering the importance of internships. Randi discussed how she landed her job at WGN. She started out as an intern with CLTV and then was referred and hired by the company, which later was bought by WGN. Randi used her internship to network and build relationships, which helped her to land a job in her field. After hearing Randi’s success story, I have gained more confidence back in the worth of unpaid internships. However, I would like to explore more studies and find out how many students with unpaid internships land jobs in their field.

I found an article on usanews.com that gave tips for students who are considering taking an unpaid internship. One thing the article discussed was researching the track record of the company to see if they are known to hire interns. Possibly WGN is more prone to hire interns then other companies. The article also said to consider if the internship is going to help widen and sharpen your skills in your field. Maybe the internship will add to your skill set and help to give you the experience that you need to land your dream job. Or you could just be grabbing coffee for your boss during the whole internship and be wasting away your skills and failing to gain beneficial experience.

I want to talk to several students who have interned or who are interning right now. I want to find out their experiences and what they are getting from their internships. I also want to weigh out the options and help to give better insight into the worth of internships and how beneficial they can be.

Wicker Park and Logan Square Prep for Festival Season

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Wicker Park and Logan Square are happening places. With the mix of warm weather and young-ish professionals with disposable incomes, the area will have its share of events in the next few weeks and months. DNA Info just posted an article highlighting the beer fests and bar specials going on this week.

I think there could be a story somewhere in here. The fests alone could make an interesting article, but then again this isn’t an uncommon thing. But if you think about it, just what effects might the fests have on the neighborhood? Take, for instance, the Wicker Park Fest in late July. Looks like a good time. But how does this affect businesses? Do they do better after these fests, because of successful promotions at the event? Do residents in the neighborhood like the influx of people who visit the area on those days? Is there a rise in crime/vandalism/public lewdness? Or is this something the neighbors look forward too, a chance to show off their home? Do people attend the fest and eventually move into the area? There are a multitude of story ideas.

The Logan Square and Wicker Park chambers of commerce would be good sources for this type of story, as would their neighborhood associations. They would presumably have valid opinions. Again, there could be an interesting story here.

What Now?: Next Steps in Hip-Hop Discussion

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Last week I touched on the differentiating perspectives of rappers from Chicago’s north side and rappers from the south side. The one that stands out the most is the emphasis on criminality. While I do believe that the “thug-life” mentality is an aesthetic all rappers use, when it comes to Chicago, I think it affects south side rappers more than it does north side ones.

At this point, I want to delve into this negative perspective of south side rappers and shed some light on just how different their perspective is.

Here’s a list of some references/articles I’m building off:

Chief Keef Arrested in Atlanta

Party Police

Seven Shot at Mr. G’s Club in Gresham Neighborhood

Chicago Parents Condemn 13-Year Old Rapper, Lil Mouse, Appearance at Nightclub

The plan is to speak to at least 2 of the rappers mentioned in these articles so that I can generate their perspective and report on it. I know it may seem outdated, but this aspect of policing and criminality can be translated to a lot of injustices in Chicago, not just hip-hop music; especially CPS school closings (I won’t go there today). Whether we like it or not, every experience in Chicago can have either a negative or a positive effect just by simply being in a specific “side” of town. I think that looking at hip-hop trends in Chicago is one of the many ways we can address this everlasting elephant in the room and may be a creative way to come up with ways to resolve those problems in perspectives.

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How Useful Are Unpaid Internships

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While examining how worthwhile internships are, I wanted to focus specifically on unpaid internships. I found an article from last summer in the Wall Street Journal that focused on unpaid internships. The article discussed a 2012 survey from the National Association of Colleges and employers, which found that students chances of getting a job are better if they are getting paid for their work. The study revealed that 60% of 2012 graduates who worked a paid internship got at least one job offer, while just 37% of those in unpaid positions got any offers. The article also reported that Intern Bridge, a recruiting research and consulting firm, found that more than half of internships reported for its 2011 Internship Salary Report were unpaid.

These reports suggest that unpaid internships aren’t worth the effort. I agree that unpaid internships can be a hassle. Although interning can provide students with hands-on experience, they also can be time consuming. Many students can’t afford to intern full time without any compensation. I was fortunate enough to have an unpaid internship that was flexible. My internship didn’t require me to go into the office and I was still able to work part-time. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have an unpaid internship that allows them to still work and bring in an income.

I want to explore how students are able to survive while working an unpaid internship. Do they work other jobs outside of their internship? Do they rely on their parents? Do they find their internships to be worthwhile? Have they been able to find jobs after their internships?